[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed
Google’s head of translation on fighting bias in language and why AI loves religious texts:


You might remember a spate of news stories last year about Google Translate spitting out ominous chunks of religious prophecy when presented with nonsense words and phrases to translate. Clickbait sites suggested it might be a conspiracy, but no, it was just Google’s machine learning systems getting confused and falling back on the data they were trained on: religious texts.

But as the head of Google Translate, Macduff Hughes, told The Verge recently, machine learning is what makes Google’s ever-useful translation tools really sing. Free, easy, and instantaneous translation is one of those perks of 21st century living that many of us take for granted, but it wouldn’t be possible without AI.

Something curious that happened last year with Google Translate was people discovering that if you inputted nonsense words it would spit out snippets of religious text. […] Why did it happen? 

Usually it’s because the language you’re translating to had a lot of religious text in the training data. For every language pair we have, we train using whatever we can find on the world wide web. So the typical behavior of these models is that if it gets gibberish in, it picks out something that’s common in the training data on the target side, and for many of these low-resource languages — where there’s not a lot of text translated on the web for us to draw on — what is produced often happens to be religious.

Some languages, the first translated material we found were translations of the Bible. We take whatever we can get and that’s usually fine, but in a case where gibberish goes in, often this is the result. If the underlying translation data had been legal documents, the model would have produced legalese; if it was aircraft flight instruction manuals, it would have produced aircraft flight instructions.

Read the whole interview

Testimony and Sermon - Wesley Carmarthen

Sunday, February 17th, 2019 06:57 pm
angelofthenorth: Red Kite soaring (RedKite-3)
[personal profile] angelofthenorth
it's long )

Theater Fluff Quest

Sunday, February 17th, 2019 09:31 am
forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
[personal profile] forestofglory
A while ago I mentioned looking for Theater fluff so here's an update on what I've found so far.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier reced by [personal profile] ambyr I’d read this before but went to reread after the rec. This was just what I wanted, good mix of tech stuff and feeling set during a middle school musical. I especially liked that it focused on backstage characters more than the actors.

The Backstagers, Vol.1& 2 by James Tynion IV Vol 1 was reread. This was fun but I wanted more actually theater tech and less magic.

Backstage Prince by Kanoko Sakurakouji This manga showed up when I looked up the Backstagers on goodreads and since it is only two volumes I decided to check it out. I was able get it via ILL. I was a bit disappointed with this. I want lots of kabuki theatre and it most just kinda boring Shojo romance.

The Importance of Being On Stage by aralias This Dr Who fic reced to me on Twitter. I enjoyed this but I think I would be better if I remembered these characters and the plot of The Importance of Being Earnest better.

Theatrical Sins: A Play in Three Acts by Aria Good Omens fic. I found this by poking the theater tag on AO3 it not actually about people putting on a show but rather people going to the theater but it's cute and fun.

On order:
The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown reced by [personal profile] alchimie The library didn’t have this so I’ve ordered a used copy online.

So that's how my quest for theater fluff is going so far. I’m also thinking about rereading some of the Shoes books since they tend to hit this spot really well. I'd love even more recs! (Any medium is fine)

Bits and Bobs

Saturday, February 16th, 2019 02:50 pm
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin and Pooh floating in a upturned  umbrella , with the word Ahoy in the corner (The Brain of Pooh)
[personal profile] forestofglory
*I've already posted my four "unpolished" posts for February! Go me but I feel still feel like writing stuff some here's another one.

*This weekend is kinda hectic. R is away at a con and we have a somewhat unexpected house guest. (She was expect to come visit but earlier in the week, and it wasn't planned that that she would stay with us.) Plus I'm feel a bit under the weather.

*House guest is very excited that I know what Mob grazing is so we chatted about grassland ecology and rangeland management. Grasslands are one of my favorite types of ecosystems and we need to protect them more.

*it's been raining so much over the last week. Very heavy rain too. I've been feeling a bit cooped up.

(no subject)

Saturday, February 16th, 2019 10:05 am
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
It is 'roses are red' season... someyears ago I saw one that was 'violets are *violet* but we didn't used to have that word' but I can't find it again... anyone know where I might find it?
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed
“I want to be careful here not to say that language creates or structures thought, and I also want to be careful here not to say that language does not create or structure thought. Because I have a nice life, and I don’t want it to be ruined by linguists.”

- John Green (Indianapolis and Love at First Sight)

frida 5 grocery shopping.

Friday, February 15th, 2019 09:22 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
1. Do you make up a dinner plan for the coming week?

Yes, although I'm only responsible for 2-3 dinners. I plan them, my lunches, and my breakfasts and snacks.

2. Do you make up a shopping list and stick to it when shopping?

sort of, it's not in one list form - recipies and my 'I always get...' list in my head

3. What is one thing that you always buy, but never put down on a list?

Fresh fruit, I'll get what's available

4. Is there anything that you always think you are out of and come home with it to discover you already have a year’s supply on hand?

I do this when I am *in the house* shopping. At the moment it is lentils, it has been pasta, and toilet roll.

5. Do you get your groceries delivered?

Yes, almost all of my groceries are delivered.


Thursday, February 14th, 2019 08:10 pm
green_knight: (Cygnet)
[personal profile] green_knight
No, this is not a post about the pirate tarot, which remains a marvellously funny deck (and which may or may not be authorised) – but I was looking at decks on Ebay to see a) how much the Art Nouveau really sells for, and b) what people charge for postage. The options there seem to be either 'free' (buyer never knows) or under £4; I think 'free postage' will work better for me - I know I'm going to eat some of the money I earn for postage, and that way I don't have to box it up and make it to the post office twice; I only need to go once, to actually post it.

The cheaper decks have high international postage, so it looks as if £75 is the low price point for this deck. (Do they actually sell? I have no idea. I assume that the £200+ decks don't sell quite as quickly.)

What I hadn't expected was that tarot decks are apparently big business in China. There are a number of decks that are available in large quantities for very small prices. Two - Shadowscapes and the Wild Unknown - are relatively recent and very popular decks; a third (Witches Tarot) is... kind of ordinary? Interesting RWS variant, nice graphics, but not special. Someone is printing these and selling them in large volume; there are plenty of sponsored listings (all around the same price point, all apparently different sellers, and some evidence of AB testing: does it sell better if we offer a volume discount? free shipping or lower price and inexpensive shipping?)

I'm surprised this is A Thing.

And while I have mixed feelings about people who download ebooks without paying the author (it's complicated), I draw a line at paying the pirates. (I have inadvertently bought one of these decks back in January when I was still figuring out and hadn't seen a lot of decks; it looked like fun, it was cheap, price and product seemed a decent match, and I had no idea what was going on. I was a bit baffled at the shipping time (it still hasn't arrived; right now it's Schroedinger's deck) but it appeared to be a remainder, not a pirated item. (If I like it, I will put the kit on my to-buy list.)

I'd like to work out why the mere _idea_ of selling something on eBay is such a problem for me. Part of it is the whole 'fear of rejection' thing and the memory of a catastrophic car boot sale (I spent four hours, made 50p before petrol, and got bronchitis in the bargain; this was when I was desperate to make SOME money for groceries, and nobody wanted my stuff. Not even for 50p. Not even, when I was packing up, for free.) But anyway, I seem to be plenty apprehensive.

In other news, Kew Gardens' Orchid display is as good as ever, and really worth seeing (Free with standard entry. Sadly, I can only take members of my family, but if anyone ever wants to meet up, I'd love to.)
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed

Belated December 2018 linkfest and summary post! BECAUSE INTERNET preorders, Adelaide, Spain, and the most phonetic restaurant name

The preorder link for my book went up this month! You can now preorder Because Internet as a delightful surprise for your future self and to let the publisher know that people are interested in internet linguistics, either online by following the links here or by contacting your local indie bookstore. (Want a hint of what’s inside? Today in Things I Tell My Copyeditor: “stet, this is a Unicode…

View On WordPress

[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed

What’s the World’s Oldest Language? A video from Dr. Word Person unpacking the hidden assumptions in this question.  

The world’s oldest language is unknown and unknowable– the limitations of historical preservation and linguistic reconstruction are to thank for that.  Even so, there’s a lot to say about truly ancient languages and the birth of human speech.

Thoughts on Some Recent Media

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 11:14 am
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
[personal profile] forestofglory
Here's some thoughts on some of the media I've consumed recently:

*I saw a play! It was Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman and the Berkeley Rep! Its a play based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, so Roman myth, preformed with a pool. I'd seen this once before about 20 years ago but forgotten a lot. Anyways it was really good, I loved how the stories flowed together and how they used the water, but rather darker than I remembered.

*I'm still reading and enjoying Fruits Basket. I think I'm about at the point where I stopped reading years ago.

*R and I have been watching a little bit of Stargate (SG1). The pilot was not great, but he's been he's picked a few good episodes form the 1st season that I've enjoyed so far. I last one featured a kickass older woman scientist which was nice. Which also watched the 1st few episodes of netflix's Carmen San Diego, which was very pretty. But it didn't really grab either of us.

*I have ton of things out from the library just now. A lot of it is Fruits Basket, but there's also some other Manga, a few graphic novels, the most recent trade of Squirrel Girl, and couple of YA books I want to try to read before nominations close for the Lodestar.

*I've only got three stories left on in my 2018 short fiction TBR.

What are you reading and watching? Seen any live performances lately

dear diary: ending week #4 in toxicology.

Monday, February 11th, 2019 11:56 pm
qilora: (Default)
[personal profile] qilora
 was able to submit my portion to the team (they uploaded the presentation tonight).... 
i also have a matrix i am filling out about 10 toxic contaminants in this house.. i was able to find the 10, but i still have to fill out 3 of them (let the prof know that i'll be a day late)...

for the past few days i have been using the waist-twister.... i was able to do it very gradually (afraid to go past my limit and accidentally "pull" a muscle) i did it very short at first: 5 min, 10 min, 15 mins, but at that point i realized it would be fine to do it as long as i wanted to, so i have been spending about 30 mins a night for 3 days now... tonight i also made a point to do 50 leg-lifts and my 30 push ups....

at first the "filthy mouth" feeling was pretty damn regular, i had it creep up on me about mid-morning and it lasted until late afternoon, but then i would work out at night and regret it bringing back that taste again (trying to keep my chin up that i am purging from that blasted chemo).... my sweat was also really odd smelling the beginning of this week (so "chemical" and a touch foul in a way i can't explain) but tonight i walked into the bathroom to wash myself after working out and made a point to sniff the washcloth (i could have sworn that the strange smell was getting lesser each night), but tonight it smelled CLEAN... i actually smell like myself again. baruch Hashem.

now it is time to go rest, and get ready for bed.
shalom - Ulla/e. & co.
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed

The true goal of text prediction can’t be as simple as anticipating what a user might want to type. After all, people often type things about sex or death—according to Google Ngrams, “job” is the most common noun after “blow,” and “bucket” is very common after “kick the.” But I experimentally typed these and similar taboo-but-common phrases into my phone’s keyboard, and it never predicted them straightaway. It waited until I’d typed most of the letters of the final word, until I’d definitely committed to the taboo, rather than reminding me of weighty topics when I wasn’t necessarily already thinking about them. With innocuous idioms (like “raining cats and”), the keyboard seemed more proactive about predicting them.

Instead, the goal of text prediction must be to anticipate what the user might want the machine to think they might want to type. For mundane topics, these two goals might seem identical, but their difference shows up as soon as a hint of controversy enters the picture. Predictive text needs to project an aspirational version of a user’s thoughts, a version that avoids subjects like sex and death even though these might be the most important topics to human existence—quite literally the way we enter and leave the world.

We prefer the keyboard to balance raw statistics against our feelings. Sex Death Phone Keyboard is a pretty good name for my future metal band (and a very bad name for my future pony), but I can’t say I’d actually buy a phone that reminds me of my own mortality when I’m composing a grocery list or suggests innuendos when I’m replying to a work email.

The predictive text meme is comforting in a social media world that often leaps from one dismal news cycle to the next. The customizations make us feel seen. The random quirks give our pattern-seeking brains delightful connections. The parts that don’t make sense reassure us of human superiority—the machines can’t be taking over yet if they can’t even write me a decent horoscope! And the topic boundaries prevent the meme from reminding us of our human frailty. The result is a version of ourselves through the verbal equivalent of an Instagram filter, eminently shareable on social media.

- Gretchen McCulloch, Autocomplete Presents the Best Version of You

Learning is good

Monday, February 11th, 2019 08:07 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
In the spirit of just posting rather than worrying about whether it's worthy, a brief update on the state of the Liv.

misc stuff in my life; mild medical )

Also, wow, 80 people had opinions about not seeing the wood for the trees. I also learned something new from my silly poll: in other Englishes and other languages, it's unambiguously a wooded area, not the material. I love you guys.


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Lethargic Man (anag.)

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